Artifact Politics — Time

Even though this technology is not tangible, the basis of society and human interaction revolves entirely around this organization. Time has been around, well, since the beginning of time. There is no other organism or life-form on earth that has created a construct like time, as we know it. Yet, we find it necessary to be always keeping track of it. We find new methods in which to be more accurate and efficient with our time. We wear watches; the first thing we see on our phone screens is the time, and every room you walk into, chances are, has a clock lurking around somewhere.

It can be argued that society could not be possible without time. It has been such an integral part of human existence, which to even attempt to imagine a world without time seems ridiculous. Sure, science tells us that our bodies run on a 24-hour cycle, and how else would we be able to set up meetings for business or pleasure? How would we coordinate activities without knowing what time to meet? Or any science, mathematical, or physics discovery, since we certainly would not know the meaning of “one second.”

Time for us is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years. Everyone knows this. It is how we keep holidays and other important dates. Each day of the year comes and goes, only to come again the next year. We set our calendars each day, with an agenda calibrated for certain times according to different engagements we have set for the day. Seemingly, we are slaves to time. Time controls us. We created the technology time, and yet we have no control over it.

We are taught to always be punctual and to use our time wisely. It is as if we are subjects to a king (1). A king we cannot see and which technically does not even exist. This requires authoritarian politics, since it is tightly regulated and structured. We only escape this authoritarian control when we let go of time. Leisure is when we release ourselves from time and are longer held down by our own technology (1). It is when we use time for ourselves without keeping track of it or allowing it to determine how we live, if for just a brief period.

Time organizes our world. But it is also our master whom we obey without question everyday. People who use our time or ask us for a moment of our time are keepers of this most precious commodity. If we are slaves to our time, then we are slaves to those who use it.

This is a seemingly crude division of our lives, separating ourselves from nature and becoming a part of a construct that we have little say in (1). Time has created the society we live in, for better or for worse. But it is important that once in a while, we escape the control of this technology and the “efficient” lifestyles we lead. Faster is not always better and it might be ok to linger for a while. I do know that we cannot live in an organized society without time. But I also know we cannot truly live while wholly depending on time.


(1) Ascent of Humanity,  Eisenstein


One thought on “Artifact Politics — Time”

  1. Your essay is a great read I must say. I was actually very surprised to see this topic, because it had not occurred to me that one could use this as an artifact. You’re right, we are controlled by time to the extent that we don’t even think about it. We are bound by this constant need and desire to know the time. I found this essay to be fascinating. You’ve really described and made aware what we constantly are controlled by. Very good essay!


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